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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #371 - An abundance of Eggplant has me making Moussaka.
August 23, 2020

Eggplant or if you prefer, Aubergine, the garden is overflowing with at least four different varieties. So! What do we do with it. We will eventually make the batter for our Eggplant Fritters but right now it’s Moussaka. Here are the multiple ingredients. It takes a few hours to put it all together but Oh! was it worth it. What you see here made a 11" x 16" pan that yielded 12 generous servings. The recipe I used was from Bon Appetit’s Moussaka and I enlarged it to 1.5 times. Most everything came from the garden but the ground Lamb which was a bit difficult to find. Look in the freezer section with the New Zealand lamb. It was a touch expensive but adds considerably to the flavour. I think the Aubergines in the garden are some of the prettiest things there, especially the striped, Shooting Stars from Stokes.

Cinnamon Girl is a delightful Iris and she put up a great show in the garden in June but she is taking up a bit too much space and found herself on the dig and divide list for this year. I have removed a few duplicates and divided a few others and that has left me with a considerable quantity of healthy rhizomes. I’m selling them in an attempt to make enough money to pay Chuck Chapman for the new varieties that I ordered earlier this year. $5 each or 3 for $10 which the Assistant Gardener reminds me is a bargain compared to what I paid Chuck for the new varieties Those of you who live nearby can email me about times this week. If you are a bit more distant I’m going to try shipping them to you. I have pictures to help you shop. email and address are at the bottom of his page.

Aristolochia macrophylla or Dutchman’s Pipe is a great vine if used in the correct place. It grows quite rapidly each year with lovely large leaves. The Pipe in question is the flower which I have never seen in several years of growing it. Its purpose in my garden is to cover the trellis that makes a screen between my deck and another smaller deck that is used by a tenant. I have failed miserably to get it pruned properly for several year but this year I was quite ruthless and cut it back considerably and, as you can see, it is making the dense screen that it was always supposed to. It is growing in quite a bit of shade but that doesn’t seem to have any effect on it.

A couple of years ago I had Dill growing all through the gravel paths winding through the vegetable garden. It had self seeded from the small patch I had planted the previous year. Apparently I was able to eradicate it. I planted a row of seed this year and the lovely plant shown here is the only one that germinated. I will let it mature as much as possible and attempt to keep an eye on it so that I can harvest that seed before it disperses itself. I like to use that dill seed as a flavouring in several recipes. Arctic Char poached in white wine and dill seed is a delight.

It is the Hydrangea time of year. You can see them everywhere, the result of much breeding being done by several plant companies. In my garden the Hydrangea paniculata is the easiest to grow and the hardiest. Some varieties can get quite large and may need a little maintenance pruning each year. Because they bloom on new wood you can prune them in the autumn or the spring. This one is one of the best of the few that I have and the company who gave it to me to trial, hates me, because I have misplaced, (aka lost) the name tag and can’t tell you which variety it is. We just refer to it as the corner hydrangea because it covers the front corner of the house. All of the new varieties of H. paniculata are quite good and you should read the tags at the nursery to find out their ultimate size, there are several dwarf varieties, and the colour of the blooms. They really are quite idiot proof and should be in everybody’s garden, especially beginners who are searching for that easy to grow specimen.

To ask a question just “reply” to this ezine. Don’t forget to check the front page of the Website for frequent short ideas for current gardening activities.

Mary Asks? Our acre lawn is also a crunching hayfield, much to the chagrin of my husband as it is his pride and joy! Some areas are recovering, but a thick bright green grass is spreadIng rapidly ....(couch)? choking out/ poisoning? the tender shoots that are trying to emerge. We have dethatched... gently, to loosen the soil, and the lifeless areas, are planning to over seed... Can we overcome this this thick weed . #2... earth box. So season 1 using one box. I planted cherry tomatoes and a green bean. Wrong plants. The tomatoes grew to far and wide, choking and shading the beans, despite rather aggressive pruning! You said you tip your over in the fall, but could I plant some crocus? Tulip? And have a spring planter? Seems a shame to waste it. Next year maybe some spinach, lettuce... that can be harvested often!

Ken Answers! You are doing all the right things but I’m not sure they are going to work. My dead lawn is sprouting lots of weeds but it’s too hot and dry to try grass seed. I’m going to keep pulling those weeds and wait and see what happens and maybe overseed in Sept. Bulbs never do well in a container. Tip it over and plant lettuce, Pak Choi, Spinach, Kohl Rabi in late April they will grow quickly and feed you before the Tulips bloom☺

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